Current Affair-March 18,2021

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CURRENT AFFAIRS

Inter­Parliamentary Union

‘No parliament should discuss laws passed in other parliaments and issues that are internal to sovereign countries’-  Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla in IPU.

About IPU

  • The  Inter-Parliamentry Union is an international organisation of the parliaments of sovereignty states.
  • It aims to work for peace and cooperation among people and for the firm establishment of representative institutions.
  • It fosters exchange of experience among the parliaments and parliamentarians of all member countries.

Indian Parliamentary Group

  • Indian Parliamentary Group acts both as National Group of IPU and also as the Indian Branch of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
  • IPG is an autonomous body. It was formed in 1949 in pursuance of a motion adopted by the Constituent Assembly (Legislative).
  • Membership is open to all members of Parliament. The former members can also become associate members of IPG. But they are entitled to limited rights.
  • Speaker of the Lok Sabha is the ex officio president of the Group. The Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha are the ex officio Vice Presidents.
  • The Secretary General of the Lok Sabha acts as the ex officio Secretary-General of the Group.
Source: The Hindu

Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2021

  • Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2021 has been introduced in Lok Sabha.
  • It aims to  streamline the renewal of the auction process for minerals and coal mining rights

Amendment proposals

Operators are currently only allowed to use coal and minerals extracted from captive mines for their own industrial use.

  1. Allow captive miners of both coal and other minerals to sell up to 50% of their production after meeting the requirements of the end-use plant and on paying additional royalty to the state government.
    • Implication: This increased flexibility would allow miners to maximise output from captive mines as they would be able to sell output in excess of their own requirements.
  2. Fix additional royalty payments to states for the extension of mining leases for central public sector enterprises.
    • Implication: State governments may object to the fixing of an additional royalty to be paid by CPSEs for such extensions as this may lead to lower revenues compared to a transparent auction process.
  3. Empower the central government to conduct auctions or re-auction processes for the grant of a mining lease if a state government fails to complete the auction process in a specified period, decided after consultations between the Centre and state.
    • Implication: Industry players may welcome the move as it would likely lead to greater transparency in the auction process as there is a perception that state governments may in some cases prefer some bidders, and try to delay or cancel mining rights if their preferred bidders do not win mining rights.

Disagreements over the additional royalty to be paid by state-owned NMDC to the Karnataka government for the extension of mining rights at the Donimalai mine had led to NMDC suspending operations at the mine for over two years. NMDC recently resumed operations after an interim agreement on the additional royalty to be paid to the Karnataka government.

Legal challenges to amendment

If an act is passed in which any state government’s discretionary power is taken away or their rights or benefits are infringed, it is likely to be challenged in the Supreme Court, especially in the case of state governments where there is an Opposition party in power.

Source: Indian Express

Study on “Vulnerable sloth bears are attracted to human food waste: a novel situation in Mount Abu town”

Study findings

  1. Food waste in Mt Abu has been drawing sloth bears into the Rajasthan tourist destination for some time now.
  2. There have been instances of the animals attacking people, but they have not blown into human-bear conflicts.
  3. The bears especially sought sweet food waste in the garbage dumps. This was similar to their preferences in the wild for sugar-rich food like honey and ripe fruits.
  4. Increase in the bears’ foraging behaviour in the garbage bins had led to an increase in human-bear conflict in the area.
  5. The absence of retaliatory action despite the increasing number of attacks on people was remarkable, it added.
  6. The researchers stressed that bears indulging in such new food gathering behaviour did not necessarily mean shortage of food sources in the wild.

Some bear species, include brown and black bears and more recently, polar bears, had been known to get addicted to urban garbage. Mount Abu is a unique situation where a bear species previously not known to forage regularly on human garbage has got used to getting into a town to seek hotel waste.

Source: Downtoearth

Artificial photosynthesis

  • Scientists have found a method to mimic nature’s own process of reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, namely photosynthesis, to capture excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
  • This artificial photosynthesis (AP) harnesses solar energy and converts the captured carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide (CO), which can be used as a fuel for internal combustion engines.
  • In artificial photosynthesis (AP), scientists are essentially conducting the same fundamental process in natural photosynthesis but with simpler nanostructures. However, there are plenty of hurdles to overcome as a successful catalyst to carry out AP.

Working

  • Scientists designed and fabricated an integrated catalytic system based on a metal-organic framework (MOF-808) comprising of a photosensitizer that can harness solar power and a catalytic centre that can eventually reduce CO2.
  • The scientists have immobilized a photosensitizer and catalytic part inside the nanospace of metal-organic framework for artificial photosynthesis. Both these molecular entities stay in close proximity in the confined nano-space of a porous metal-organic framework system resulting in excellent CO2 uptake capability at room temperature. This synthetic strategy empowers efficient solar light-driven photocatalysis.
  • The developed catalyst exhibited excellent visible-light-driven CO2 reduction to CO with more than 99% selectivity.
  • The catalyst also oxidizes water to produce oxygen (O2).
  • Being heterogeneous, the integrated catalytic assembly can be reused for several catalytic cycles without losing its activity.

Photosensitizer: Molecules which absorb light and transfer the electron from the incident light into another nearby molecule.

Significance

It will pave the way to develop new integrated catalytic systems for CO2 capture and conversion of different energy-rich C1 and C2 chemical feedstocks by mimicking artificial photosynthesis.

Source: PIB

International Solar Alliance

Context: Prime Minister Modi invited Finland to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA).

ISA

  • International Solar Alliance (ISA) was conceived as a coalition of solar-resource-rich countries (which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn) to address their special energy needs.
  • The ISA will provide a dedicated platform for cooperation among solar-resource-rich countries, through which the global community, including governments, bilateral and multilateral organizations, corporates, industry, and other stakeholders, can contribute to help achieve the common goal of increasing the use and quality of solar energy in meeting energy needs of prospective ISA member countries in a safe, convenient, affordable, equitable and sustainable manner.
  • Headquartered at Gurugram, India. ISA is an Indian initiative.
  • Membership: The ISA has 122 sun-belt countries that lie between the two tropics as its prospective member countries.
Source: PIB

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